DCIS – Is It Really Breast Cancer?

DCIS  (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ)  is a common breast cancer diagnosis.  In fact, according to some sources, it may comprise as much as 30% of all breast cancer diagnoses in the United States.  The question is, is it really breast cancer?

Believe it or not, there is very real controversy as to whether DCIS is truly breast cancer, or whether it is merely a benign pre-cancerous condition that is easily curable with minor surgery or can be lived with for many years without threat.  There are doctors and researchers on both sides of this question.


How is DCIS defined?  According to the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Georgia, DCIS is “a non-invasive or pre-invasive breast condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of breast milk ducts.  These abnormal cells have not spread or invaded beyond the walls of the ducts into surrounding breast tissue.  DCIS is not cancer.  It is referred to as ‘pre-invasive’ because some cases will progress into cancers, while others will not.  Currently, there is no effective way to determine this.”

So, this cancer institute clearly states that DCIS is NOT cancer.  But if anyone does a quick search on DCIS online, they will find that there appears to be some confusion in this regard.  Some sources refer to DCIS as an “early form of breast cancer.”  (Which would indicate that it is cancer.)  Others refer to it as a “pre-cancerous state” that might turn into cancer at some point.  (Which would indicate that it is not yet cancer.)  Well, which is it?  Cancer or something that might turn into cancer?

I understand the need to take this condition and the risk of possible future invasive cancer seriously, so I am not suggesting anyone ignore a DCIS diagnosis or take it lightly.  However, you don’t have to search very hard to find sources that will state uncategorically that DCIS is not life-threatening and only turns into a life-threatening cancerous condition in some cases.  How many cases?  That, I think, is the million dollar question.  No one really knows.

One conventional mainstream treatment center claims that 40-50% of all DCIS cases “may” turn into malignant breast cancer.  But that word “may” leaves a lot of wiggle room in the statistics and makes me wonder why they added the numbers 40 to 50 at all.   Some doctors believe there is more likely only a 10-20% chance that DCIS will turn into malignant cancer in any given case.  Obviously, the likelihood is difficult to accurately assess, and that must be taken into consideration.  But the reality is that DCIS is not a normal malignant cancer condition by any stretch of the imagination.

So, if you’ve been diagnosed with DCIS, you may want to say, “Whoa, not so fast with the breast cancer diagnosis!  I need to look into this a little more.”

Dr. John R. Lee was one of the world’s leading experts on breast cancer.  (He passed away in  2003 and is greatly missed.)  In his last book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, Dr. Lee described DCIS as “abnormal cells,” not cancer.  He explained that these cells are generally scattered within the duct of the breast, not clustered into a tumor, and they are contained within the duct.  (Not infiltrated into deeper layers of the breast.)  Dr. Lee also claimed that DCIS is essentially known to be a benign condition and that only a very small fraction of cases go on to become malignant cancer.

Yet countless women are being given a diagnosis of DCIS and told they have breast cancer.  Moreover, they are often scared into extreme treatment procedures that include mastectomy, radiation, and hormone-blocking treatment.  How is a woman supposed to figure out the truth of her situation?  Each woman facing this diagnosis needs to do her own research and find out more for herself, but here’s a tip to start with:

DCIS is referred to as Breast Cancer, Stage O

How can any type of health condition be graded “Stage Zero”?  That’s like saying, “Stage Nothing.”  Are we looking at the emperor’s new clothes here?  If you’ve been diagnosed with DCIS, look carefully at your official diagnosis in your medical reports and see if it says “Stage O.”  If it does, ask your oncologist to explain the logic of that.

Conventional Treatment

Surgery followed by radiation and possibly hormone-blocking drug treatment is considered normal protocol for treating DCIS in mainstream medicine.  Surgery can either be a relatively minor procedure, such as lumpectomy, or a major procedure, such as mastectomy (removal of entire breast).  Radiation is well-known to be carcinogenic and can potentially cause a secondary cancer down the line.  It can also in some cases damage blood vessels to the heart and predispose the woman to a heart attack.  Hormone-blocking drugs can cause unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening side effects, so they should be carefully evaluated as well.  Overall, it is extremely important that women with a DCIS diagnosis carefully weigh the risk factors of conventional treatment side effects versus the risk of their benign condition turning into a life-threatening cancer some day.

Rather than simply treat every DCIS case the same way, I like Dr. John R. Lee’s recommendation that treatment for each DCIS case should be evaluated individually.  On page 55 of his book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, Dr. Lee explains this concept:

“Ultimately, how you choose to treat DCIS should be based on a thorough analysis of its severity, which can be done with a biopsy.  DCIS that is low grade, small celled, and without necrosis (dead and dying tissue) is less likely to become invasive, especially if you correct the underlying imbalance that caused the problem in the first place.  On the other hand, the more aggressive types of DCIS, which are high nuclear grade, large-celled, and with comedo-type necrosis, have more potential to become invasive, and you should have them removed.  These types of analyses can only be done in partnership with a trusted physician or oncologist, and preferably with a second opinion.”

Alternative Treatment

In all my years of investigating alternative treatments for cancer, I have not yet come across a reliable treatment for DCIS.  In my opinion, this is not necessarily a bad thing for women who receive this diagnosis, because it may just be an indication that DCIS is not true cancer and not malignant.  I say this because it is common for alternative non-toxic methods to work only on malignant cancer and to not work at all on benign masses.  For instance, while researching my book, I came across case after case after case of cancer patients responding to the Protocel formula.  But one little girl with a massive slow-growing brain tumor did not respond at all to the Protocel her mother gave her for many months.  Finally, she was taken to a specialist in pediatric brain tumors who believed the girl’s tumor was a benign mass and not cancer at all.  He was able to surgically remove it and the pathology report then proved that it was, in fact, benign.

Dr. John Lee considered DCIS to be the result of metabolic dysfunction that involves progesterone deficiency and estrogen dominance and that if the underlying cause is not corrected, the condition could develop in the other breast as well or recur in the same breast after treatment.  So, his recommendation on p. 56 of the aforementioned book is to follow an overall hormone-balancing lifestyle.  (Presumably to see if the DCIS goes away.)  I highly recommend all of his books which are still widely available and still some of the best sources of information about hormonal changes in women and breast cancer treatments.


I hate to say it, but an argument can be made that DCIS is intentionally treated as regular breast cancer in mainstream medicine and included in regular breast cancer cure rate statistics because by adding in this mostly benign condition, the average life expectancy of women treated conventionally for breast cancer goes WAY up.  Whether improving conventional breast cancer cure rate statistics this way is intentional or not is hard to say.

My only goal here is to ask women to tread carefully when they make a decision about treating their DCIS.  Do you really want to cut your breast off or radiate yourself for a “stage nothing” cancer diagnosis that may turn into cancer at some point?  Or, would it be sufficient to simply undergo a less extreme lumpectomy and make some nutritional and lifestyle changes?  Definitely take the diagnosis seriously, because some cases could eventually turn into cancer.  At least, do your homework first and don’t let anyone railroad you into treatment right away.  You may have MUCH more time to decide what to do than your oncologist is leading you to believe.

Most importantly, don’t fall prey to the terror that a cancer diagnosis can cause if all you have is a “Stage O” condition that many doctors believe should not even be called cancer!

by Tanya Harter Pierce,  Author of OUTSMART YOUR CANCER


To read about breast cancer causes and treatments in general, see Chapter 19 of Outsmart Your Cancer.



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